Do Hall of Fame Baseball Players Make Good Major League Managers?

Major League Baseball managers run from minor league lifers to legendary Hall of Famers. How have managers with different playing backgrounds faired in their jobs?

The game of baseball has always been described as an old man's game, with baseball lifers dominating the coaching scene for as long as the game has been played. 

Not all baseball lifers are necessarily guys who have been around the game their entire lives, however. Some were once all stars, or even Hall of Fame players. There are over 200 players in the Hall of Fame, but only a handful have been hired to be a full-time major league managers.

There's a difference between being a coach and a manager. Coaches can teach the game, and in some situations turn into lifelong mentors. A manager's job takes all of that to a whole different level. They make the lineup, pull pitchers, control emotions in the clubhouse, and are often the face of blame after a bad game or season.

So, do Hall of Fame baseball players make good managers?               

                                 

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In baseball history only six players who had already been inducted into the Hall of Fame have proceeded to become major league managers: Paul Molitor, Ryne Sandberg, Eddie Mathews, Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, and Frank Robinson.

From a pure numbers standpoint, those six guys managed a combined 35 seasons and have a win-loss record of 2,188-2,419. Additionally, none have won a World Series as a manager.

An additional outlier is Red Schoendienst, who was elected to the Hall of Fame after his managing career. Schoendienst is the only Hall of Fame player to win a World Series as a manager.

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Frank Robinson is one of the greatest players to ever step on a baseball diamond. His 586 home runs are good for ninth all-time in baseball history, and he is the only player to win the MVP in both the American and National Leagues. Robinson managed for 16 seasons, although he was fired and hired at the mid-point of a season multiple times. He has a 1,065-1,176 managerial record with players such as Joe Morgan, Chili Davis, and Cal Ripken. He only had five full seasons where he managed a team over .500, and he never took a team to the postseason.

More recently, Ryne Sandberg took over a declining Philadelphia Phillies team from legendary manager Charlie Manuel. Sandberg lacked the "emotional intelligence" it takes to manage players, and the job took a major toll on him. Many loses, combined with an aging core of players, resulted in Sandberg resigning midway through his third year. He only managed one full season after taking over and quitting mid season. As a player he was one of the greatest second basemen of all-time, but as a manager he didn't know how to work a game, or bring any motivation out of his players.

                                                        

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The late, great Yogi Berra had some of his greatest successes on the field as a manager, taking two teams to a World Series appearance and a career post-season record of .474 in 19 games. But when you look at the players Berra managed on the New York Mets and New York Yankees, it's hard to compare lineups. Berra managed some of the greats, including Mays, Tom Seaver, Mickey Mantle, and Dave Winfield. His teams finished in first place twice, second place once, third place three times, and fifth place once. Some mixed results from him.

When you look at current managers in Major League Baseball, there are four that have either never played in the big leagues, or played less than two games: Joe MaddonTerry CollinsBryan Price, and Buck Showalter. Among them they have two World Series appearances and six Manager of the Year awards.

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Maddon is a favorite across the sport, mostly because of his ability to relate to players despite a 30-40 year age difference. The same can be said with Buck Showalter and Terry Collins, who could be on his way to achieving similar status.

There are 11 current managers who were either career bench players or who started in limited seasons. Between them there are five World Series Championships and a .537 winning percentage. Terry Francona and Bruce Bochy represent the World Series titles, each winning multiple ones with the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants, respectively. 

Five current managers were full-time starters who were not all-star players. John Farrell won the World Series in 2012 with the Boston Red Sox after taking over for Bobby Valentine. The five managers have a combined winning percentage of .526: Farrell, Dave Roberts, Craig Counsell, Scott Seravis, and Mike Matheny.

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Finally, there are seven major league managers today who have played in all-star games and/or received Hall of Fame consideration multiple times: Don Mattingly, Dusty Baker, Walt Weiss, Brad AusmusMike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, and Robin Ventura. Scioscia and Girardi have each won World Series as a manager, and Scioscia and Baker have each won more than 1400 games as a manager.

The effectiveness of a manager is better measured in a clubhouse than on the field. We saw that with Ryne Sandberg in Philadelphia, when he could not manage the egos of a younger generation of players with his no-nonsense approach to the game. Every situation is different, but looking at the number of current managers in today's game, you see more bench players earning their stripes at the helms of organizations.


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